Kissing, sex, cuddling: How do you define intimacy?

how do you define intimacy

Sex? Making out? Cuddling? Holding hands? Deep, meaningful conversation? According to Webster’s Dictionary intimacy is defined as a “very personal or private nature.” This could mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. The real question is, how do you define intimacy. And just as important–how does your partner define intimacy?

What do you think of…

…when you hear intimacy? Some people automatically assume it means sex. But this is not the case for everyone. Some people have romantic ideas of being in their partner’s embrace. Others imagine holding hands while going for walks or simply sitting on the couch. One of the most important things you can do for your happiness and your satisfaction in any relationship is consider how you define intimacy.

The easiest way to do this is by simply closing your eyes and imagining yourself being intimate. You may feel a little silly doing this but its only because you assume that everyone pictures the same thing that you do. But they don’t! You are a unique individual. You have your own unique set of needs and desires, which can only be satisfied when they are met in a way that is unique to you.

Your partner is also unique in their wants, needs, and desires.

Don’t forget your partner!

Your partner is also unique in their wants, needs, and desires. Just because you may define intimacy as giving your partner a kiss before bed, doesn’t mean this is how your partner defines it. They could define intimacy as a loving back massage or some other physical touch. When their definition is not fulfilled the way they feel that it needs to be, they become unsatisfied in the relationship. Just like, when you’re needs are not being fulfilled the way that you believe they should, you too become dissatisfied. Truth is, both partners believe they are trying. They just have different definitions of intimacy. So, it is important that you know how your partner defines intimacy as well.

Time changes all!

Country singer Merle Haggard once wrote, “they say time changes all it pertains to, but your memory is stronger than time.” It is true, time does change a lot of things. The way we look, the way we feel, and the way we think about things––such as intimacy. Just because you define intimacy as oral sex in your early 20s, doesn’t mean you’ll define it the same way in your 50s or 60s. So, it is important that you continually reevaluate the way that you think about intimacy. If you are in a long term, ongoing relationship, you also need occasionally ask your partner how they think about intimacy as well. This way you can periodically make adjustments and changes as to how you display intimacy in a relationship.

Don’t be surprised when…

…your partner, who once define intimacy as intercourse, later defines intimacy as something completely different, like conversation. Or vice versa. Some people consider intimacy as a deep, meaningful conversation and then as the relationship grows, their definition of intimacy changes to something sexual. None of these answers are wrong. And just because your partner may define intimacy as holding hands doesn’t mean that they don’t also desire to have intercourse. The main thing is to know how you define intimacy and understand your partner may define it differently, and to ensure that you are trying to meet your partners needs.

Time and time again people come for therapy, individual therapy or couples’ therapy, because they are not having their needs met in their relationship. Their partner is often oblivious to this and feel that they have been trying to meet their needs. Many times, it comes down to a lack of understanding and communication. In March, I will be writing an article on the importance of communication in relationships and how to have better communication in your relationship. You won’t want to miss it! So stayed tuned!

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Author

Dr. Christopher Ryan Jones, PsyD is a clinical psychologist, sex therapist, and the host of the Confessions Of A Sex Therapist podcast. As an expert in human sexuality, he conducted a pioneering study on the relationship between gender identity, sexuality, and religion, which has been peer reviewed and published. He is often featured in various media outlets such as the Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan, GQ, and the Oprah Magazine. For more information visit www.clinicalsextherapist.com.